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1.  IL10 Polymorphisms Are Associated with Airflow Obstruction in Severe α1-Antitrypsin Deficiency 
Severe α1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a proven genetic risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), especially in individuals who smoke. There is marked variability in the development of lung disease in individuals homozygous (PI ZZ) for this autosomal recessive condition, suggesting that modifier genes could be important. We hypothesized that genetic determinants of obstructive lung disease may be modifiers of airflow obstruction in individuals with severe AAT deficiency. To identify modifier genes, we performed family-based association analyses for 10 genes previously associated with asthma and/or COPD, including IL10, TNF, GSTP1, NOS1, NOS3, SERPINA3, SERPINE2, SFTPB, TGFB1, and EPHX1. All analyses were performed in a cohort of 378 PI ZZ individuals from 167 families. Quantitative spirometric phenotypes included forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and the ratio of FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC). A qualitative phenotype of moderate-to-severe COPD was defined for individuals with FEV1 ⩽ 50 percent predicted. Six of 11 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IL10 (P = 0.0005–0.05) and 3 of 5 SNPs in TNF (P = 0.01–0.05) were associated with FEV1 and/or FEV1/FVC. IL10 SNPs also demonstrated association with the qualitative COPD phenotype. When phenotypes of individuals with a physician's diagnosis of asthma were excluded, IL10 SNPs remained significantly associated, suggesting that the association with airflow obstruction was independent of an association with asthma. Haplotype analysis of IL10 SNPs suggested the strongest association with IL10 promoter SNPs. IL10 is likely an important modifier gene for the development of COPD in individuals with severe AAT deficiency.
PMCID: PMC2176135  PMID: 17690329
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetic modifiers; interleukin 10; family-based association analysis
2.  A Genome-Wide Association Study in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Identification of Two Major Susceptibility Loci 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(3):e1000421.
There is considerable variability in the susceptibility of smokers to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The only known genetic risk factor is severe deficiency of α1-antitrypsin, which is present in 1–2% of individuals with COPD. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in a homogenous case-control cohort from Bergen, Norway (823 COPD cases and 810 smoking controls) and evaluated the top 100 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the family-based International COPD Genetics Network (ICGN; 1891 Caucasian individuals from 606 pedigrees) study. The polymorphisms that showed replication were further evaluated in 389 subjects from the US National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) and 472 controls from the Normative Aging Study (NAS) and then in a fourth cohort of 949 individuals from 127 extended pedigrees from the Boston Early-Onset COPD population. Logistic regression models with adjustments of covariates were used to analyze the case-control populations. Family-based association analyses were conducted for a diagnosis of COPD and lung function in the family populations. Two SNPs at the α-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (CHRNA 3/5) locus were identified in the genome-wide association study. They showed unambiguous replication in the ICGN family-based analysis and in the NETT case-control analysis with combined p-values of 1.48×10−10, (rs8034191) and 5.74×10−10 (rs1051730). Furthermore, these SNPs were significantly associated with lung function in both the ICGN and Boston Early-Onset COPD populations. The C allele of the rs8034191 SNP was estimated to have a population attributable risk for COPD of 12.2%. The association of hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP) locus on chromosome 4 was also consistently replicated, but did not reach genome-wide significance levels. Genome-wide significant association of the HHIP locus with lung function was identified in the Framingham Heart study (Wilk et al., companion article in this issue of PLoS Genetics; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000429). The CHRNA 3/5 and the HHIP loci make a significant contribution to the risk of COPD. CHRNA3/5 is the same locus that has been implicated in the risk of lung cancer.
Author Summary
There is considerable variability in the susceptibility of smokers to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a heritable multi-factorial trait. Identifying the genetic determinants of COPD risk will have tremendous public health importance. This study describes the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) in COPD. We conducted a GWAS in a homogenous case-control cohort from Norway and evaluated the top 100 single nucleotide polymorphisms in the family-based International COPD Genetics Network. The polymorphisms that showed replication were further evaluated in subjects from the US National Emphysema Treatment Trial and controls from the Normative Aging Study and then in a fourth cohort of extended pedigrees from the Boston Early-Onset COPD population. Two polymorphisms in the α-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor 3/5 locus on chromosome 15 showed unambiguous evidence of association with COPD. This locus has previously been implicated in both smoking behavior and risk of lung cancer, suggesting the possibility of multiple functional polymorphisms in the region or a single polymorphism with wide phenotypic consequences. The hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP) locus on chromosome 4, which is associated with COPD, is also a significant risk locus for COPD.
PMCID: PMC2650282  PMID: 19300482
3.  Epidemiology, radiology, and genetics of nicotine dependence in COPD 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):9.
Cigarette smoking is the principal environmental risk factor for developing COPD, and nicotine dependence strongly influences smoking behavior. This study was performed to elucidate the relationship between nicotine dependence, genetic susceptibility to nicotine dependence, and volumetric CT findings in smokers.
Current smokers with COPD (GOLD stage ≥ 2) or normal spirometry were analyzed from the COPDGene Study, a prospective observational study. Nicotine dependence was determined by the Fagerstrom test for nicotine dependence (FTND). Volumetric CT acquisitions measuring the percent of emphysema on inspiratory CT (% of lung <-950 HU) and gas trapping on expiratory CT (% of lung <-856 HU) were obtained. Genotypes for two SNPs in the CHRNA3/5 region (rs8034191, rs1051730) previously associated with nicotine dependence and COPD were analyzed for association to COPD and nicotine dependence phenotypes.
Among 842 currently smoking subjects (335 COPD cases and 507 controls), 329 subjects (39.1%) showed high nicotine dependence. Subjects with high nicotine dependence had greater cumulative and current amounts of smoking. However, emphysema severity was negatively correlated with the FTND score in controls (ρ = -0.19, p < .0001) as well as in COPD cases (ρ = -0.18, p = 0.0008). Lower FTND score, male gender, lower body mass index, and lower FEV1 were independent risk factors for emphysema severity in COPD cases. Both CHRNA3/5 SNPs were associated with FTND in current smokers. An association of genetic variants in CHRNA3/5 with severity of emphysema was only found in former smokers, but not in current smokers.
Nicotine dependence was a negative predictor for emphysema on CT in COPD and control smokers. Increased inflammation in more highly addicted current smokers could influence the CT lung density distribution, which may influence genetic association studies of emphysema phenotypes.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials (NCT): NCT00608764
PMCID: PMC3033825  PMID: 21232152
4.  Loci Identified by Genome-wide Association Studies Influence Different Disease-related Phenotypes in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: Genome-wide association studies have shown significant associations between variants near hedgehog interacting protein HHIP, FAM13A, and cholinergic nicotinic acetylcholine receptor CHRNA3/5 with increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in smokers; however, the disease mechanisms behind these associations are not well understood.
Objectives: To identify the association between replicated loci and COPD-related phenotypes in well-characterized patient populations.
Methods: The relationship between these three loci and COPD-related phenotypes was assessed in the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate End-point (ECLIPSE) cohort. The results were validated in the family-based International COPD Genetics Network (ICGN).
Measurements and Main Results: The CHRNA3/5 locus was significantly associated with pack-years of smoking (P = 0.002 and 3 × 10−4), emphysema assessed by a radiologist using high-resolution computed tomography (P = 2 × 10−4 and 4.8 × 10−5), and airflow obstruction (P = 0.004 and 1.8 × 10−5) in the ECLIPSE and ICGN populations, respectively. However, variants in the IREB2 gene were only significantly associated with FEV1. The HHIP locus was not associated with smoking intensity but was associated with FEV1/FVC (P = 1.9 × 10−4 and 0.004 in the ECLIPSE and ICGN populations). The HHIP locus was also associated with fat-free body mass (P = 0.007) and with both retrospectively (P = 0.015) and prospectively (P = 0.024) collected COPD exacerbations in the ECLIPSE cohort. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the FAM13A locus were associated with lung function.
Conclusions: The CHRNA3/5 locus was associated with increased smoking intensity and emphysema in individuals with COPD, whereas the HHIP and FAM13A loci were not associated with smoking intensity. The HHIP locus was associated with the systemic components of COPD and with the frequency of COPD exacerbations. FAM13A locus was associated with lung function.
PMCID: PMC3029936  PMID: 20656943
COPD exacerbations; nicotine addiction; high-resolution CT; genetic association analysis; emphysema
5.  CHRNA3/5, IREB2, and ADCY2 Are Associated with Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in Poland 
We examined the association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) previously associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and/or lung function with COPD and COPD-related phenotypes in a novel cohort of patients with severe to very severe COPD. We examined 315 cases of COPD and 330 Caucasian control smokers from Poland. We included three SNPs previously associated with COPD: rs7671167 (FAM13A), rs13180 (IREB2), and rs8034191 (CHRNA 3/5), and four SNPs associated with lung function in a genome-wide association study of general population samples: rs2070600 (AGER), rs11134242 (ADCY2), rs4316710 (THSD4), and rs17096090 (INTS12). We tested for associations with severe COPD and COPD-related phenotypes, including lung function, smoking behavior, and body mass index. Subjects with COPD were older (average age 62 versus 58 years, P < 0.01), with more pack-years of smoking (45 versus 33 pack-years, P < 0.01). CHRNA3/5 (odds ratio [OR], 1.89; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5–2.4; P = 7.4 × 10−7), IREB2 (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.5–0.9; P = 3.4 × 10−3), and ADCY2 (OR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.1–1.7; P = 0.01) demonstrated significant associations with COPD. FAM13A (OR, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.7–1.0; P = 0.11) approached statistical significance. FAM13A and ADCY2 also demonstrated a significant association with lung function. Thus, in severe to very severe COPD, we demonstrate a replication of association between two SNPs previously associated with COPD (CHRNA3/5 and IREB2), as well as an association with COPD of one locus initially associated with lung function (ADCY2).
PMCID: PMC3423462  PMID: 22461431
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetic association analysis; lung function; smoking; nicotine addiction
6.  Dissecting direct and indirect genetic effects on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility 
Human genetics  2013;132(4):431-441.
Cigarette smoking is the major environmental risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Genome-wide association studies have provided compelling associations for three loci with COPD. In this study, we aimed to estimate direct, i.e., independent from smoking, and indirect effects of those loci on COPD development using mediation analysis. We included a total of 3,424 COPD cases and 1,872 unaffected controls with data on two smoking-related phenotypes: lifetime average smoking intensity and cumulative exposure to tobacco smoke (pack years). Our analysis revealed that effects of two linked variants (rs1051730 and rs8034191) in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development are significantly, yet not entirely, mediated by the smoking-related phenotypes. Approximately 30 % of the total effect of variants in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development was mediated by pack years. Simultaneous analysis of modestly (r2 = 0.21) linked markers in CHRNA3 and IREB2 revealed that an even larger (~42 %) proportion of the total effect of the CHRNA3 locus on COPD was mediated by pack years after adjustment for an IREB2 single nucleotide polymorphism. This study confirms the existence of direct effects of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3, IREB2, FAM13A and HHIP loci on COPD development. While the association of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 locus with COPD is significantly mediated by smoking-related phenotypes, IREB2 appears to affect COPD independently of smoking.
PMCID: PMC3600068  PMID: 23299987
7.  Determinants of airflow obstruction in severe alpha‐1‐antitrypsin deficiency 
Thorax  2007;62(9):806-813.
Severe α1‐antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is an autosomal recessive genetic condition associated with an increased but variable risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study was undertaken to assess the impact of chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and sex on the development of COPD in individuals with severe AAT deficiency.
The AAT Genetic Modifier Study is a multicentre family‐based cohort study designed to study the genetic and epidemiological determinants of COPD in AAT deficiency. 378 individuals (age range 33–80 years), confirmed to be homozygous for the SERPINA1 Z mutation, were included in the analyses. The primary outcomes of interest were a quantitative outcome, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) percentage predicted, and a qualitative outcome, severe airflow obstruction (FEV1 <50% predicted).
In multivariate analysis of the overall cohort, cigarette smoking, sex, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia were risk factors for reduced FEV1 percentage predicted and severe airflow obstruction (p<0.01). Index cases had lower FEV1 values, higher smoking histories and more reports of adult asthma, pneumonia and asthma before age 16 than non‐index cases (p<0.01). Men had lower pre‐ and post‐bronchodilator FEV1 percentage predicted than women (p<0.0001); the lowest FEV1 values were observed in men reporting a history of childhood asthma (26.9%). This trend for more severe obstruction in men remained when index and non‐index groups were examined separately, with men representing the majority of non‐index individuals with airflow obstruction (71%). Chronic bronchitis (OR 3.8, CI 1.8 to 12.0) and a physician's report of asthma (OR 4.2, CI 1.4 to 13.1) were predictors of severe airflow obstruction in multivariate analysis of non‐index men but not women.
In individuals with severe AAT deficiency, sex, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia are risk factors for severe COPD, in addition to cigarette smoking. These results suggest that, in subjects severely deficient in AAT, men, individuals with symptoms of chronic bronchitis and/or a past diagnosis of asthma or pneumonia may benefit from closer monitoring and potentially earlier treatment.
PMCID: PMC2117297  PMID: 17389752
8.  Causal and Synthetic Associations of Variants in the SERPINA Gene Cluster with Alpha1-antitrypsin Serum Levels 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003585.
Several infrequent genetic polymorphisms in the SERPINA1 gene are known to substantially reduce concentration of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood. Since low AAT serum levels fail to protect pulmonary tissue from enzymatic degradation, these polymorphisms also increase the risk for early onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The role of more common SERPINA1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in respiratory health remains poorly understood.
We present here an agnostic investigation of genetic determinants of circulating AAT levels in a general population sample by performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1392 individuals of the SAPALDIA cohort.
Five common SNPs, defined by showing minor allele frequencies (MAFs) >5%, reached genome-wide significance, all located in the SERPINA gene cluster at 14q32.13. The top-ranking genotyped SNP rs4905179 was associated with an estimated effect of β = −0.068 g/L per minor allele (P = 1.20*10−12). But denser SERPINA1 locus genotyping in 5569 participants with subsequent stepwise conditional analysis, as well as exon-sequencing in a subsample (N = 410), suggested that AAT serum level is causally determined at this locus by rare (MAF<1%) and low-frequent (MAF 1–5%) variants only, in particular by the well-documented protein inhibitor S and Z (PI S, PI Z) variants. Replication of the association of rs4905179 with AAT serum levels in the Copenhagen City Heart Study (N = 8273) was successful (P<0.0001), as was the replication of its synthetic nature (the effect disappeared after adjusting for PI S and Z, P = 0.57). Extending the analysis to lung function revealed a more complex situation. Only in individuals with severely compromised pulmonary health (N = 397), associations of common SNPs at this locus with lung function were driven by rarer PI S or Z variants. Overall, our meta-analysis of lung function in ever-smokers does not support a functional role of common SNPs in the SERPINA gene cluster in the general population.
Author Summary
Low levels of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood are a well-established risk factor for accelerated loss in lung function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. While a few infrequent genetic polymorphisms are known to influence the serum levels of this enzyme, the role of common genetic variants has not been examined so far. The present genome-wide scan for associated variants in approximately 1400 Swiss inhabitants revealed a chromosomal locus containing the functionally established variants of AAT deficiency and variants previously associated with lung function and emphysema. We used dense genotyping of this genetic region in more than 5500 individuals and subsequent conditional analyses to unravel which of these associated variants contribute independently to the phenotype's variability. All associations of common variants could be attributed to the rarer functionally established variants, a result which was then replicated in an independent population-based Danish cohort. Hence, this locus represents a textbook example of how a large part of a trait's heritability can be hidden in infrequent genetic polymorphisms. The attempt to transfer these results to lung function furthermore suggests that effects of common variants in this genetic region in ever-smokers may also be explained by rarer variants, but only in individuals with hampered pulmonary health.
PMCID: PMC3749935  PMID: 23990791
9.  A genome-wide association study of COPD identifies a susceptibility locus on chromosome 19q13 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(4):947-957.
The genetic risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are still largely unknown. To date, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of limited size have identified several novel risk loci for COPD at CHRNA3/CHRNA5/IREB2, HHIP and FAM13A; additional loci may be identified through larger studies. We performed a GWAS using a total of 3499 cases and 1922 control subjects from four cohorts: the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE); the Normative Aging Study (NAS) and National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT); Bergen, Norway (GenKOLS); and the COPDGene study. Genotyping was performed on Illumina platforms with additional markers imputed using 1000 Genomes data; results were summarized using fixed-effect meta-analysis. We identified a new genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 19q13 (rs7937, OR = 0.74, P = 2.9 × 10−9). Genotyping this single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and another nearby SNP in linkage disequilibrium (rs2604894) in 2859 subjects from the family-based International COPD Genetics Network study (ICGN) demonstrated supportive evidence for association for COPD (P = 0.28 and 0.11 for rs7937 and rs2604894), pre-bronchodilator FEV1 (P = 0.08 and 0.04) and severe (GOLD 3&4) COPD (P = 0.09 and 0.017). This region includes RAB4B, EGLN2, MIA and CYP2A6, and has previously been identified in association with cigarette smoking behavior.
PMCID: PMC3298111  PMID: 22080838
10.  Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Region on Chromosome 15q25 and Lung Cancer Risk Among African Americans: A Case–Control Study 
Genome-wide association studies of white persons with lung cancer have identified a region of extensive linkage disequilibrium on chromosome 15q25.1 that appears to be associated with both risk for lung cancer and smoking dependence. Because studying African American persons, who exhibit lower levels of linkage disequilibrium in this region, may identify additional loci that are associated with lung cancer, we genotyped 34 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in this region (including LOC123688, PSMA4, CHRNA5, CHRNA3, and CHRNB4 genes) in 467 African American patients with lung cancer and 388 frequency-matched African American control subjects. Associations of SNPs in LOC123688 (rs10519203; odds ratio [OR] = 1.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.25 to 2.05, P = .00016), CHRNA5 (rs2036527; OR = 1.67, 95% CI = 1.26 to 2.21, P = .00031), and CHRNA3 (rs1051730; OR = 1.81, 95% CI = 1.26 to 2.59, P = .00137) genes with lung cancer risk reached Bonferroni-corrected levels of statistical significance (all statistical tests were two-sided). Joint logistic regression analysis showed that rs684513 (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.31 to 0.71, P = .0003) in CHRNA5 and rs8034191 (OR = 1.76, 95% CI = 1.23 to 2.52, P = .002) in LOC123688 were also associated with risk. The functional A variant of rs1696698 in CHRNA5 had the strongest association with lung cancer (OR = 1.98, 95% CI = 1.25 to 3.11, P = .003). These SNPs were primarily associated with increased risk for lung adenocarcinoma histology and were only weakly associated with smoking phenotypes. Thus, among African American persons, multiple loci in the region of chromosome 15q25.1 appear to be strongly associated with lung cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC2914761  PMID: 20554942
11.  Circulating alpha1-antitrypsin in the general population: Determinants and association with lung function 
Respiratory Research  2008;9(1):35.
Severe alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency associated with low AAT blood concentrations is an established genetic COPD risk factor. Less is known about the respiratory health impact of variation in AAT serum concentrations in the general population. We cross-sectionally investigated correlates of circulating AAT concentrations and its association with FEV1.
In 5187 adults (2669 females) with high-sensitive c-reactive protein (CRP) levels ≤ 10 mg/l from the population-based Swiss SAPALDIA cohort, blood was collected at the time of follow-up examination for measuring serum AAT and CRP.
Female gender, hormone intake, systolic blood pressure, age in men and in postmenopausal women, as well as active and passive smoking were positively, whereas alcohol intake and BMI inversely correlated with serum AAT levels, independent of CRP adjustment. We observed an inverse association of AAT with FEV1 in the total study population (p < 0.001), that disappeared after adjustment for CRP (p = 0.28). In addition, the AAT and FEV1 association was modified by gender, menopausal status in women, and smoking.
The results of this population-based study reflect a complex interrelationship between tobacco exposure, gender related factors, circulating AAT, systemic inflammatory status and lung function.
PMCID: PMC2413219  PMID: 18439253
12.  Genes and COPD 
The marked variability in individual susceptibility to the detrimental effects of smoking on lung function and findings suggest a significant genetic contribution to COPD, which has been demonstrated in several studies. The only known genetic risk factor for COPD, severe alpha 1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency, explains only 1–2% of cases of this disease. Screening for severe AAT should be conducted in all cases of COPD. Intravenous augmentation therapy should be combined with currently recommended treatment modalities for COPD when treating patients with COPD due to severe AAT deficiency. There is considerable interest in identifying susceptibility genes for COPD unrelated to severe AAT deficiency, as this could greatly enhance current efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat this disease by yielding novel insights into its pathogenesis. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of COPD and its intermediate phenotypes (e.g., lung function measures) have identified novel susceptibility loci for COPD. Some of these susceptibility loci may also influence lung function in the general population (e.g., HHIP and FAM13A), while others may affect not only COPD but other diseases related to smoking behavior (e.g., CHRNA3/CHRNA5). Although much work remains to be done, recent advances and the implementation of novel approaches to study COPD genetics (e.g., sequencing) and epigenetics are promising, and could have a profound impact on COPD management.
PMCID: PMC3399759  PMID: 22793939
COPD; genetics; alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency
13.  Genetics of Sputum Gene Expression in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24395.
Previous expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) studies have performed genetic association studies for gene expression, but most of these studies examined lymphoblastoid cell lines from non-diseased individuals. We examined the genetics of gene expression in a relevant disease tissue from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients to identify functional effects of known susceptibility genes and to find novel disease genes. By combining gene expression profiling on induced sputum samples from 131 COPD cases from the ECLIPSE Study with genomewide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data, we found 4315 significant cis-eQTL SNP-probe set associations (3309 unique SNPs). The 3309 SNPs were tested for association with COPD in a genomewide association study (GWAS) dataset, which included 2940 COPD cases and 1380 controls. Adjusting for 3309 tests (p<1.5e-5), the two SNPs which were significantly associated with COPD were located in two separate genes in a known COPD locus on chromosome 15: CHRNA5 and IREB2. Detailed analysis of chromosome 15 demonstrated additional eQTLs for IREB2 mapping to that gene. eQTL SNPs for CHRNA5 mapped to multiple linkage disequilibrium (LD) bins. The eQTLs for IREB2 and CHRNA5 were not in LD. Seventy-four additional eQTL SNPs were associated with COPD at p<0.01. These were genotyped in two COPD populations, finding replicated associations with a SNP in PSORS1C1, in the HLA-C region on chromosome 6. Integrative analysis of GWAS and gene expression data from relevant tissue from diseased subjects has located potential functional variants in two known COPD genes and has identified a novel COPD susceptibility locus.
PMCID: PMC3174957  PMID: 21949713
14.  The role of IREB2 and transforming growth factor beta-1 genetic variants in COPD: a replication case-control study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:24.
Genetic factors are known to contribute to COPD susceptibility and these factors are not fully understood. Conflicting results have been reported for many genetic studies of candidate genes based on their role in the disease. Genome-wide association studies in combination with expression profiling have identified a number of new candidates including IREB2. A meta-analysis has implicated transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGFbeta1) as a contributor to disease susceptibility.
We have examined previously reported associations in both genes in a collection of 1017 white COPD patients and 912 non-diseased smoking controls. Genotype information was obtained for seven SNPs in the IREB2 gene, and for four SNPs in the TGFbeta1 gene. Allele and genotype frequencies were compared between COPD cases and controls, and odds ratios were calculated. The analysis was adjusted for age, sex, smoking and centre, including interactions of age, sex and smoking with centre.
Our data replicate the association of IREB2 SNPs in association with COPD for SNP rs2568494, rs2656069 and rs12593229 with respective adjusted p-values of 0.0018, 0.0039 and 0.0053. No significant associations were identified for TGFbeta1.
These studies have therefore confirmed that the IREB2 locus is a contributor to COPD susceptibility and suggests a new pathway in COPD pathogenesis invoking iron homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3047296  PMID: 21320324
15.  SERPINE2 haplotype as a risk factor for panlobular type of emphysema 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:157.
SERPINE2 (serpin peptidase inhibitor, clade E, member 2) has previously been identified as a positional candidate gene for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and has subsequently been associated to COPD and emphysema in several populations. We aimed to further examine the role of SERPINE2 polymorphisms in the development of pulmonary emphysema and different emphysema subtypes.
Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SERPINE2 were analyzed from 951 clinically and radiologically examined Finnish construction workers. The genotype and haplotype data was compared to different emphysematous signs confirmed with high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), diffusing capacity (DLCO), and specific diffusing capacity (DLCO/VA).
Three of the studied SERPINE2 SNPs (rs729631, rs975278, and rs6748795) were found to be in tight linkage disequilibrium. Therefore, only one of these SNPs (rs729631) was included in the subsequent analyses, in addition to the rs840088 SNP which was in moderate linkage with the other three studied SNPs. The rs729631 SNP showed a significant association with panlobular emphysema (p = 0.003). In further analysis, the variant allele of the rs729631 SNP was found to pose over two-fold risk (OR 2.22, 95% CI 1.05-4.72) for overall panlobular changes and over four-fold risk (OR 4.37, 95% CI 1.61-11.86) for pathological panlobular changes. A haplotype consisting of variant alleles of both rs729631 and rs840088 SNPs was found to pose an almost four-fold risk for overall panlobular (OR 3.72, 95% CI 1.56-8.90) and subnormal (OR 3.98, 95% CI 1.55-10.20) emphysema.
Our results support the previously found association between SERPINE2 polymorphisms and pulmonary emphysema. As a novel finding, our study suggests that the SERPINE2 gene may in particular be involved in the development of panlobular changes, i.e., the same type of changes that are involved in alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) -deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3269992  PMID: 22145704
16.  Genome-Wide Association Studies Identify CHRNA5/3 and HTR4 in the Development of Airflow Obstruction 
Wilk, Jemma B. | Shrine, Nick R. G. | Loehr, Laura R. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Manichaikul, Ani | Lopez, Lorna M. | Smith, Albert Vernon | Heckbert, Susan R. | Smolonska, Joanna | Tang, Wenbo | Loth, Daan W. | Curjuric, Ivan | Hui, Jennie | Cho, Michael H. | Latourelle, Jeanne C. | Henry, Amanda P. | Aldrich, Melinda | Bakke, Per | Beaty, Terri H. | Bentley, Amy R. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Brusselle, Guy G. | Burkart, Kristin M. | Chen, Ting-hsu | Couper, David | Crapo, James D. | Davies, Gail | Dupuis, Josée | Franceschini, Nora | Gulsvik, Amund | Hancock, Dana B. | Harris, Tamara B. | Hofman, Albert | Imboden, Medea | James, Alan L. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Lahousse, Lies | Launer, Lenore J. | Litonjua, Augusto | Liu, Yongmei | Lohman, Kurt K. | Lomas, David A. | Lumley, Thomas | Marciante, Kristin D. | McArdle, Wendy L. | Meibohm, Bernd | Morrison, Alanna C. | Musk, Arthur W. | Myers, Richard H. | North, Kari E. | Postma, Dirkje S. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Rich, Stephen S. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rochat, Thierry | Rotter, Jerome I. | Artigas, María Soler | Starr, John M. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Wijmenga, Cisca | Zanen, Pieter | Province, Michael A. | Silverman, Edwin K. | Deary, Ian J. | Palmer, Lyle J. | Cassano, Patricia A. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Barr, R. Graham | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Strachan, David P. | London, Stephanie J. | Boezen, H. Marike | Probst-Hensch, Nicole | Gharib, Sina A. | Hall, Ian P. | O’Connor, George T. | Tobin, Martin D. | Stricker, Bruno H.
Rationale: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified loci influencing lung function, but fewer genes influencing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are known.
Objectives: Perform meta-analyses of GWAS for airflow obstruction, a key pathophysiologic characteristic of COPD assessed by spirometry, in population-based cohorts examining all participants, ever smokers, never smokers, asthma-free participants, and more severe cases.
Methods: Fifteen cohorts were studied for discovery (3,368 affected; 29,507 unaffected), and a population-based family study and a meta-analysis of case-control studies were used for replication and regional follow-up (3,837 cases; 4,479 control subjects). Airflow obstruction was defined as FEV1 and its ratio to FVC (FEV1/FVC) both less than their respective lower limits of normal as determined by published reference equations.
Measurements and Main Results: The discovery meta-analyses identified one region on chromosome 15q25.1 meeting genome-wide significance in ever smokers that includes AGPHD1, IREB2, and CHRNA5/CHRNA3 genes. The region was also modestly associated among never smokers. Gene expression studies confirmed the presence of CHRNA5/3 in lung, airway smooth muscle, and bronchial epithelial cells. A single-nucleotide polymorphism in HTR4, a gene previously related to FEV1/FVC, achieved genome-wide statistical significance in combined meta-analysis. Top single-nucleotide polymorphisms in ADAM19, RARB, PPAP2B, and ADAMTS19 were nominally replicated in the COPD meta-analysis.
Conclusions: These results suggest an important role for the CHRNA5/3 region as a genetic risk factor for airflow obstruction that may be independent of smoking and implicate the HTR4 gene in the etiology of airflow obstruction.
PMCID: PMC3480517  PMID: 22837378
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; single-nucleotide polymorphism; genes
17.  Four SNPs in the CHRNA3/5 Alpha-Neuronal Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Subunit Locus Are Associated with COPD Risk Based on Meta-Analyses 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102324.
Several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in an α-neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit (CHRNA3/5) were identified to be associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in a study based on a Norwegian population. However, results from subsequent studies have been controversial, particularly in studies recruiting Asians. In the present study, we conducted a comprehensive search and meta-analyses to identify susceptibility SNPs for COPD in the CHRNA3/5 locus.
A comprehensive literature search was conducted to find studies that have reported an association between SNPs in the CHRNA3/5 locus and COPD risk. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for each SNP were calculated with the major allele or genotype as the reference group. The influence of individual studies on pooled measures was assessed, in addition to publication bias.
A total of 12 articles with 14 eligible studies were included in this analysis. Association between 4 SNPs in the CHRNA3/5 locus and COPD was evaluated and included rs1051730, rs8034191, rs6495309, and rs16969968. Significant associations between the 4 SNPs and COPD were identified under allele (rs1051730: OR = 1.14, 95%CI = 1.10–1.18; rs8034191: OR = 1.29, 95%CI = 1.18–1.41; rs6495309: OR = 1.26, 95%CI = 1.09–1.45; rs16969968: OR = 1.27, 95%CI = 1.17–1.39) and genotype models. Subgroup analysis conducted for rs1051730 showed a significant association between this SNP and COPD risk in non-Asians (OR = 1.14, 95%CI = 1.10–1.18), but not Asians (OR = 1.23, 95%CI = 0.91–1.67). Rs1051730 and rs6495309 were also significantly associated with COPD after adjusting for multiple variables, including age and smoking status.
Our results indicate that 4 SNPs in the CHRNA3/5 locus are associated with COPD risk. Rs1051730 was particularly associated with COPD in non-Asians, but its role in Asians still needs to be verified. Additional studies will be necessary to assess the effect of rs6495309 on COPD. Although rs1051730 and rs6495309 were shown to be independent risk factors for COPD, validation studies should be performed.
PMCID: PMC4106784  PMID: 25051068
18.  Environmental, occupational, and genetic risk factors for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(14):1749-1752.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is an inherited genetic disorder currently diagnosed in approximately 5,000 people in the United States. Although some individuals with AAT deficiency are asymptomatic, the condition often leads to deterioration of lung function in adults and is associated with emphysema, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory diseases. In children, AAT deficiency can result in severe liver disease, including fatal cirrhosis in newborn infants. Although much is known about the clinical pathology of AAT deficiency, researchers are just beginning to characterize environmental, occupational, and genetic modifiers affecting the onset and progression of diseases related to AAT deficiency. On 19 August 2002, a group of basic scientists, clinicians, environmental health researchers, and public interest groups gathered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, to discuss ongoing research on these topics. The goals of this workshop were to a) assess the present state of knowledge regarding environmental and occupational risk factors contributing to AAT deficiency morbidity and mortality, b) define future research needs in this area, and c) explore collaborative opportunities to advance understanding of risk factors affecting the progression of AAT deficiency-related disease. Participants agreed that new research initiatives in these areas represent an opportunity to benefit both basic science, through enhanced understanding of gene-environment interaction, and the AAT deficiency patient community, through innovative new approaches to disease management and treatment.
PMCID: PMC1241718  PMID: 14594626
19.  Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor variants associated with susceptibility to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a meta-analysis 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):158.
Only 10-15% of smokers develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which indicates genetic susceptibility to the disease. Recent studies suggested an association between COPD and polymorphisms in CHRNA coding subunits of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Herein, we performed a meta-analysis to clarify the impact of CHRNA variants on COPD.
We searched Web of Knowledge and Medline from 1990 through June 2011 for COPD gene studies reporting variants on CHRNA. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) were calculated using the major allele or genotype as reference group.
Among seven reported variants in CHRNA, rs1051730 was finally analyzed with sufficient studies. Totally 3460 COPD and 11437 controls from 7 individual studies were pooled-analyzed. A-allele of rs1051730 was associated with an increased risk of COPD regardless of smoking exposure (pooled OR = 1.26, 95% CI 1.18-1.34, p < 10-5). At the genotypic level, the ORs gradually increased per A-allele (OR = 1.27 and 1.50 for GA and AA respectively, p < 10-5). Besides, AA genotype exhibited an association with reduced FEV1% predicted (mean difference 3.51%, 95%CI 0.87-6.16%, p = 0.009) and increased risk of emphysema (OR 1.93, 95%CI 1.29-2.90, p = 0.001).
Our findings suggest that rs1051730 in CHRNA is a susceptibility variant for COPD, in terms of both airway obstruction and parenchyma destruction.
PMCID: PMC3283485  PMID: 22176972
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Nicotine acetylcholine receptor (nAChR); CHRNA -; ; Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)
20.  Genetic association analysis of COPD candidate genes with bronchodilator responsiveness 
Respiratory medicine  2008;103(4):552-557.
Airflow limitation in COPD patients is not fully reversible. However, there may be large variability in bronchodilator responsiveness (BDR) among COPD patients, and familial aggregation of BDR suggests a genetic component. Therefore we investigated the association between six candidate genes and BDR in subjects with severe COPD. A total of 389 subjects from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) were analyzed. Bronchodilator responsiveness to albuterol was expressed in three ways: absolute change in FEV1, change in FEV1 as a percent of baseline FEV1, and change in FEV1 as a percent of predicted FEV1. Genotyping was completed for 122 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in six candidate genes (EPHX1, SFTPB, TGFB1, SERPINE2, GSTP1, ADRB2). Associations between BDR phenotypes and SNP genotypes were tested using linear regression, adjusting for age, sex, pack-years of smoking, and height. Genes associated with BDR phenotypes in the NETT subjects were assessed for replication in 127 pedigrees from the Boston Early-Onset COPD (EOCOPD) Study. Three SNPs in EPHX1 (p = 0.009 – 0.04), three SNPs in SERPINE2 (p = 0.004 – 0.05) and two SNPs in ADRB2 (0.04 – 0.05) were significantly associated with BDR phenotypes in NETT subjects. BDR. One SNP in EPHX1 (rs1009668, p = 0.04) was significantly replicated in EOCOPD subjects. SNPs in SFTPB, TGFB1, and GSTP1 genes were not associated with BDR. In conclusion, a polymorphism of EPHX1 was associated with bronchodilator responsiveness phenotypes in subjects with severe COPD.
PMCID: PMC2745950  PMID: 19111454
bronchodilator responsiveness; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetics; association analysis
21.  SERPINA1 PiZ and PiS Heterozygotes and Lung Function Decline in the SAPALDIA Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42728.
Severe alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a strong risk factor for COPD. But the impact of gene variants resulting in mild or intermediate AAT deficiency on the longitudinal course of respiratory health remains controversial. There is indication from experimental studies that pro-inflammatory agents like cigarette smoke can interact with these variants and thus increase the risk of adverse respiratory health effects. Therefore, we tested the effect of the presence of a protease inhibitor (Pi) S or Z allele (PiMS and PiMZ) on the change in lung function in different inflammation-exposed subgroups of a large, population-based cohort study.
Methodology and Principal Findings
The SAPALDIA population includes over 4600 subjects from whom SERPINA1 genotypes for S and Z alleles, spirometry and respiratory symptoms at baseline and after 11 years follow-up, as well as proxies for inflammatory conditions, such as detailed smoking history, obesity and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), were available. All analyses were performed by applying multivariate regression models. There was no overall unfavourable effect of PiMS or PiMZ genotype on lung function change. We found indication that PiZ heterozygosity interacted with inflammatory stimuli leading to an accelerated decline in measures in use as indices for assessing mild airway obstruction. Obese individuals with genotype PiMM had an average annual decline in the forced mid expiratory flow (ΔFEF25-75%) of 58.4 ml whereas in obese individuals with PiMZ it amounted to 92.2 ml (p = 0.03). Corresponding numbers for persistent smokers differed even more strongly (66.8 ml (PiMM) vs. 108.2 ml (PiMZ), p = 0.005). Equivalent, but less strong associations were observed for the change in the FEV1/FVC ratio.
We suggest that, in addition to the well established impact of the rare PiZZ genotype, one Z allele may be sufficient to accelerate lung function decline in population subgroups characterized by elevated levels of low grade inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3418297  PMID: 22912729
22.  Functional Polymorphisms of CHRNA3 Predict Risks of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Lung Cancer in Chinese 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46071.
Recently, several genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many susceptible single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer which are two closely related diseases. Among those SNPs, some of them are shared by both the diseases, reflecting there is possible genetic similarity between the diseases. Here we tested the hypothesis that whether those shared SNPs are common predictor for risks or prognosis of COPD and lung cancer. Two SNPs (rs6495309 and rs1051730) located in nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha 3 (CHRNA3) gene were genotyped in 1511 patients with COPD, 1559 lung cancer cases and 1677 controls in southern and eastern Chinese populations. We found that the rs6495309CC and rs6495309CT/CC variant genotypes were associated with increased risks of COPD (OR = 1.32, 95% C.I. = 1.14–1.54) and lung cancer (OR = 1.57; 95% CI = 1.31–1.87), respectively. The rs6495309CC genotype contributed to more rapid decline of annual Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) in both COPD cases and controls (P<0.05), and it was associated with advanced stages of COPD (P = 0.033); the rs6495309CT/CC genotypes conferred a poor survival for lung cancer (HR = 1.41, 95%CI = 1.13–1.75). The luciferase assays further showed that nicotine and other tobacco chemicals had diverse effects on the luciferase activity of the rs6495309C or T alleles. However, none of these effects were found for another SNP, rs1051730G>A. The data show a statistical association and suggest biological plausibility that the rs6495309T>C polymorphism contributed to increased risks and poor prognosis of both COPD and lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3463594  PMID: 23056235
23.  Racial Differences in the Association Between SNPs on 15q25.1, Smoking Behavior, and Risk of Non-small Cell Lung Cancer 
Three genome-wide association studies identified a region on chromosome 15q25.1 associated with lung cancer and measures of nicotine addiction. This region includes nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit genes CHRNA3 and CHRNA5. These studies were conducted in European or European American populations and do not provide risk estimates for African Americans. The goal of this study was to determine whether recently identified genetic variation in 3 SNPs (rs1051730, rs931794, rs8034191) on chromosome 15q25.1 contributes to risk of lung cancer in African Americans.
Data were derived from three case-control studies. Participants included 1058 population-based non-small cell lung cancer cases selected from the Detroit area SEER registry and 1314 controls matched within study by age, race, and sex. Thirty-nine percent of participants were African American.
Risk associated with rs1051730 (odds ratio 1.59; 95% confidence interval 1.16–2.19) and rs931794 (odds ratio 1.39; 95% confidence interval 1.09–1.78) increased in ever smoking African Americans adjusting for cigarettes smoked per day. Among white cases, the number of cigarettes smoked varied by genotype at all three SNPs, and when smoking quantity was included in the models, risk was not significantly associated with any of the three SNPs.
These findings suggest that SNPs in the CHRNA3 and CHRNA5 region contribute to lung cancer risk, and while variant alleles are less frequent in African Americans, risk in this group may be greater than in whites and less likely to reflect an indirect effect on lung cancer risk through nicotine dependence.
PMCID: PMC3768000  PMID: 19641473
Non-small cell lung cancer; Smoking; SNPs
24.  Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is not a rare disease but a disease that is rarely diagnosed. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(16):1851-1854.
Articles in the literature on alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency have been interpreted as indicating that AAT deficiency is a rare disease that affects mainly Caucasians (whites) from northern Europe. In a recent publication on the worldwide racial and ethnic distribution of AAT deficiency, new data were presented demonstrating that it is also found in various populations of African blacks; Arabs and Jews in the Middle East; and Central, Far East, and Southeast Asians, as well as whites in Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and North America. The new data on the prevalence of AAT deficiency in other major racial groups worldwide will affect the standards for the diagnosis of AAT deficiency by the medical community, with the realization that is not a rare disease of whites in northern Europe and immigrants from these countries in the New World. In a total population of 4.4 billion in the 58 countries surveyed, there are at least 116 million carriers (those with Pi phenotypes PiMS and PiMZ) and 3.4 million with deficiency allele combinations (phenotypes PiSS, PiSZ, and PiZZ) for the two most prevalent deficiency alleles PiS and PiZ; therefore, the new data suggest that AAT deficiency may be one of the most common serious single-locus genetic diseases in the world. Particularly important is the unique susceptibility of AAT-deficient individuals to exposure to chemical and particulate environmental agents. Such exposures are known to result in both lung and liver disease as well as other adverse health effects.
PMCID: PMC1241756  PMID: 14654440
25.  Identification and characterisation of eight novel SERPINA1 Null mutations 
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is the most abundant circulating antiprotease and is a member of the serine protease inhibitor (SERPIN) superfamily. The gene encoding AAT is the highly polymorphic SERPINA1 gene, found at 14q32.1. Mutations in the SERPINA1 gene can lead to AAT deficiency (AATD) which is associated with a substantially increased risk of lung and liver disease. The most common pathogenic AAT variant is Z (Glu342Lys) which causes AAT to misfold and polymerise within hepatocytes and other AAT-producing cells. A group of rare mutations causing AATD, termed Null or Q0, are characterised by a complete absence of AAT in the plasma. While ultra rare, these mutations confer a particularly high risk of emphysema.
We performed the determination of AAT serum levels by a rate immune nephelometric method or by immune turbidimetry. The phenotype was determined by isoelectric focusing analysis on agarose gel with specific immunological detection. DNA was isolated from whole peripheral blood or dried blood spot (DBS) samples using a commercial extraction kit. The new mutations were identified by sequencing all coding exons (II-V) of the SERPINA1 gene.
We have found eight previously unidentified SERPINA1 Null mutations, named: Q0cork, Q0perugia, Q0brescia, Q0torino, Q0cosenza, Q0pordenone, Q0lampedusa, and Q0dublin . Analysis of clinical characteristics revealed evidence of the recurrence of lung symptoms (dyspnoea, cough) and lung diseases (emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis) in M/Null subjects, over 45 years-old, irrespective of smoking.
We have added eight more mutations to the list of SERPINA1 Null alleles. This study underlines that the laboratory diagnosis of AATD is not just a matter of degree, because the precise determination of the deficiency and Null alleles carried by an AATD individual may help to evaluate the risk for the lung disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13023-014-0172-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4255440  PMID: 25425243
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency; Q0 mutation; Lung diseases; Serpins

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